Expect applications of carbon-ceramic brake technology to increase by more than three orders of magnitude within five years, a senior Brembo SpA executive tells Ward’s.
Regulatory requirements for improved fuel economy is one driver because carbon-ceramic brakes portend weight savings, says Roberto Vavassori, director-business development.
Competitive pressure is another factor, particularly for makers of high-end cars.
“Many manufacturers want lighter weight and better-performing brakes,” he says. “What we envision is all of the makers of these sorts of cars need to have at least the option of carbon-ceramic brakes in their catalog.”
Vavossori makes his remarks on the heels of Italy-based Brembo’s announcement it is partnering with Germany-based SGL Group to establish Brembo SGL Carbon Ceramic Brakes.
The joint venture will leverage SGL’s materials knowledge with Brembo’s engineering and manufacturing expertise.
The new enterprise now can claim 99% of the industry’s carbon-ceramic brake business and a customer list that includes brands such as, Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Ferrari, Lamborghini and Porsche.
Two more brands have carbon-ceramic brakes “in their pipelines,” Vavossori says, but he stops short of identifying them.
Carbon-ceramic brake technology has a 3% penetration rate in high-end luxury cars, as well as European-market small sedans. Vavasorri sees this ratio increasing to 25% before 2015.
Key to this expansion is the anticipated improvements the JV expects to make with regard to manufacturing. Current production is volume-contrained because the best results are achieved using a batch process.
But while one batch is being produced, another batch sits idle, Vavassori explains. “This is really a killer of efficiency. We need to move to a continuous process.”
And this will come when Brembo SGL is able to lower processing temperatures from the current peak requirement of 2,900º F (1,600º C).
Such improvement will bring added benefits to cost and environmental impact.
“If we are able to bring down the temperature, the process will become easier, safer and use less energy,” says Vavassori, who also holds out hope carbon-ceramic brakes will proliferate to mainstream cars.
Brembo has seen this progression before. Its caliper technology, featured just a few years ago on the F1 circuit, now widely is available on mass-market vehicles, he says.
The JV will employ 350 people at sites in Meltingen, Germany, and Stezzano, Italy. Forecast sales for 2009 are in the range of E70 million ($100 million), Brembo says in a statement.